Case Study: mBolden (f.k.a. Women in Wireless)
Women’s leadership, connected to the future.
Women in Wireless had been around for long enough that it was clear to them that the “wireless” in their name was making them sound dated- when in truth, they were (and are) anything but. For more than 12 years, they’ve created a supportive, instructive, and powerful space for women working in mobile and digital technology fields. They are a global non-profit with 10k members in 10 cities around the world and over 200 volunteers. Their goal is to help female leaders succeed in the male-dominated tech industry. with a focus on diversity and inclusion, mBolden (formerly Women in Wireless) hosts frequent networking events globally, run mentorship programs, executive training and focus on increasing the number of female speakers at industry events to bring information and inspiration to their community.
mBolden partners with some of the most powerful tech companies in the world, giving women new access to networking opportunities and speakers focused on their shared professional goals. Since the beginning, they’ve kept their perspective fresh, focusing aggressively on inclusion and results-oriented action: getting more women to where they want to be in a digital career. It was only natural, now that inclusion has increasingly entered the public discourse, to keep their branding fresh as well- to make it clear not just what they’re about, but now that their mission has gone mainstream, who they are in a field of similar organizations. We partnered with this incredible organization on a complete rebranding campaign – a new name, a new brand.
For a brand to reflect the values of an organization, we need to drill dig down to what those core values are. At first glance, this seems easy, but as we scale out to an organization, it gets trickier. What values are shared by everyone? Are these values explicit, like a mission statement, or a shared culture, like a mutual belief in (and selection for) valuing inclusion or mentoring? Lastly, are you sure these values are shared- and that they mean the same thing to everyone? You might be surprised to find that you’ve got 20 operational definitions of “empowering women” or “being socially responsible.” What is the difference between the intended brand perceptions vs. the actual brand perception that the members or partners actually have?
This is probably the part of branding that we enjoy the most because it lets us jump in with everyone in the client organization at a very personal level, get everyone around the table, and challenge them all to articulate their beliefs and culture to get alignment and a common understanding. When we did this with mBolden, we found the core values that drove our following design principles:
• Empowerment. mBbolden’s core value is uplifting, supporting, and preparing the women in their community to have successful and satisfying careers.
• A de-emphasis on hierarchy. One of the things we noticed very early in our work with mBolden was how “level” their internal culture is — mentoring relationships routinely crossed age and seniority boundaries, and often ran contrary to traditional expectations (young mentoring old)— or were sufficiently mutual as to be almost beyond boundaries at all.
• Aspirational. The team at mBolden deliberately sets big goals for their organization and the women they set out to help- externally, they also encourage the women they work with to dream as big as they can, as well.
• Cooperative and collaborative. Teams are central to the culture at mBolden, and they espouse this approach to career advancement as well- they embrace a variety of strengths coming together to deliver quality, and believe the best work is done in well-integrated groups.
Style becomes substance: the name
With all this work done and a clear sense of who the organization really is, we set to work creating the translation that would convey these values, as quickly, directly and intuitive as possible through a new name and a new identity.
After several rounds, work sessions and polls within the organization, the chosen name was mBolden: personalizing the word “embolden,” meaning to give courage and motivation, the name reflects a sleek, modern approach to a core principle of empowerment, cooperation, and connecting women in tech. We condensed the first syllable “em” to simply “m” to suggest the mobile/digital focus. We then made the B uppercase, to emphasize the boldening aspect.
The font and concept
After the name was selected, we proceeded with the design investigation and created a custom font for mBolden, meant to reflect their values in different ways: it was constructed of simple shapes: circle and lines.
The essence of the organization is many individuals coming together to create something bigger, inclusive and powerful. The transparency effect between the basic shapes forming the logo represents the spirit of the organization and at the same time, it created a very rich multi-layered, multi-tone effect that also strengthens the communication of how when the individual members get together with diverse backgrounds, specialties, and seniority, it makes the organization stronger and richer. The font lacks sharp edges and angles- we wanted to emphasize mBolden’s culture of fitting together as an inclusive organization, welcoming the best version of themselves, creating strength and growth by sticking together.
The color palette: Since the original brand, Women In Wireless has an important legacy, we wanted to leverage and use as a launchpad. We are already changing the name and the logo, so we thought it was important to preserve the color to create that visual connection between the old brand and the new.
The color purple carries the WIW legacy into the mBolden future, with additional brighter, fresh, energetic colors like berry and orange to energize it. The idea is to transition the brand from a closer connection to WIW (purple) and gradually use more of the new brighter palette and leave the purple as a secondary color.
As we started developing the different brand applications and bringing the brand to life through their marketing material, we develop an image treatment and established the use of multiple circular elements extracted from the logo as graphic elements.
Building a brand identity for mBolden is a brilliant example of meeting an organization whose mission and principles are aligned with ours, they are about inclusion and creating a sense of diversity and belonging. This process allowed us to help bring that organization to life so that mBolden gets the recognition and presence that will allow them to empower even more women in the digital space and multiply the results. It is also important to create a branding system that they can grow with over time, as the organization evolves. We’d love to see what makes YOUR organization special, and show it to the world. The right brand identity brings attention, focus, and traffic- and helps your mission move forward. An inclusive design approach makes all the difference. Let us be your next step in building a winning brand!